“The biggest resignation is that people say, whatever the situation, I want better,” Patricia Ming Buckley told CNN Business. The 35-year-old, who lives in Sydney, made the decision to leave her job at EY consultancy last August.
A December survey by the jobs website of nearly 1,000 workers in Singapore found that nearly half of respondents were unsure whether they would remain in their current position over the next six months. Nearly a quarter intend to leave their employer in the first half of this year. LinkedIn data for January showed a significant increase in the number of workers changing industries in Spain, the Netherlands and Italy compared to early 2021.
And in a study of workers commissioned by messaging company Slack, which covers Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, Japan and France, openness to looking for a new job has increased every three months since June.
“It’s this reassessment that people have had as they rethink the role of work in their lives,” said Brian Elliott, senior vice president at Slack who heads up the Future Forum Initiative. “They’re rethinking — not just in terms of things like compensation — but also, clearly, things like flexibility, purpose, and balance.”
Where is the wave?
There were a large number of people who wanted to quit their jobs, as people largely stayed put during the initial phase of the pandemic. Reports of exhaustion spread. People were asking big questions about the purpose of life while sitting on big piles of savings. And there was the potential for friction as those who had been working remotely and who were now a priority for flexibility were called into the office.
The theory was spot on: In 2021, 47.8 million workers in the United States voluntarily left their jobs, the highest number since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking full-year data in 2001. The number of dropouts remained high in January and February. this year.
“I’ve been wearing a lot of hats for one person,” said Bobby Conklin, who left her buying and sales job at Cintas last month. The 25-year-old, who lives in New Jersey, said she was exhausted from working 10 to 12 hours a day, and started a new role at an e-commerce company days later.
The factors identified by Klotts are not limited to the United States. But debate rages on whether the “Big Resignation” has reached other job markets.
We are seeing a ‘big cabinet reshuffle’ rather than a ‘big resignation” Josh Frydenberg, the Australian treasurer, said in a speech last month.
“In much of Europe, people have stayed with the employers they have,” said Guillaume Minouet, head of investment and economic strategy for Europe, Middle East and Africa at Citi Private Bank.
But there were signs of disruption. In France, the number of resignations during the third quarter of 2021, the most recent data available, was the highest in records dating back to 2007.
And in the UK, the rate of people aged 16-64 moving from job to job was an all-time high of 3.2% between October and December.
However, Tony Wilson, director of the Institute for Employment Studies, believes claims that the Great Resignation crossed the Atlantic are exaggerated, noting that the rate is only slightly higher than it was in the early 2000s.
Discontent is growing
It is clear that Americans are not the only ones who think differently about business.
Joan Ponce-Laplana, 47, in Sheffield, England, quit his job as a senior nurse in the National Health Service nearly a year ago. Now he works as a teacher, training people from disadvantaged backgrounds so they can find jobs on the NHS.
Laplana said he felt guilty for leaving a profession he loved at a time when hospitals were facing a massive shortage of resources. But when he was diagnosed with PTSD after working in intensive care during the first two waves of Covid, he knew this was a decision he had to make to preserve his mental health.
“The idea of your death – to be next – was very present,” he said. Furthermore, he was often the only one caring for the dying patients and communicating with their grieving families. “Day after day, that had an effect.”
Thibaut Pratt, a 28-year-old based in Paris, France, gave notice and quit his job buying and selling electricity in May after nearly five years. He said he works long hours, especially since the price of electricity has gone up.
He was also frustrated that he wasn’t producing anything in his job, and didn’t want to enter numbers into Excel spreadsheets as society struggled with issues like the pandemic and the climate crisis.
“There was a growing gap between my beliefs and my job that I just couldn’t live with anymore,” he said.
Pratt said he plans to take a few months off before looking for a job in another part of the industry such as the nuclear sector.
Workers’ surveys indicate that Pratt will not be alone in assessing his options. A Future Forum report published in January found that 53% of workers in France and 55% in Germany and Japan are open to looking for new jobs in the next year. This figure rises to 64% in Australia and 60% in the UK.
Change on the horizon?
This desire to seek new opportunities comes as job opportunities continue to rise, and employers in a number of industries are willing to pay more to hire workers. In the UK, where the Brexit-related labor market is also being overhauled, there are now 4.4 vacancies for every 100 jobs – an all-time high.
“With such a huge talent shortage in the UK right now, people are quite confident and ready to change jobs,” said Mark Cahill, managing director of Manpower Group UK and Ireland.
The Singapore Ministry of Manpower has also indicated that it is preparing for more resignations in the coming months.
“In sectors with low-paying jobs, people are able to exit because of better opportunities. And in growth sectors where there is strong demand for labor, hiring and quitting rates are expected to be higher,” the agency said in January.
In Australia, the government said workers who commute to their jobs typically get wage bumps of between 8% and 10%.
The job market in Europe is also expected to get stronger this year, which could give more people a chance to switch roles, said Mariano Mamertino, LinkedIn’s chief EMEA economist. About 58% of Europeans say they are considering a job change this year, according to a LinkedIn survey of nearly 9,000 workers — although it was completed before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which economists have warned could push the region into recession.
“When the job market really narrows, there are more opportunities available,” Mamertino said.
Ming Buckley, a Sydney-based worker who left EY – one of the “Big Four” accounting firms – said mental health also played a big role in her decision to leave.
“I’m starting to feel like I’m part of a big machine,” she said. “I never saw myself as someone who would be part of the race to climb the corporate ladder.”
I took a few months off and recently started doing interviews. This time around, she’s looking for a part-time job at a nonprofit – something that closely aligns with her values, and will allow her to launch a coaching and side coaching business. It’s Epiphany – the pandemic helped him along.
“I don’t think people woke up one day and were very unhappy with their jobs,” said Ming Buckley. “I think it’s been evolving for years and years and years.”